January 2015

“Snow On Snow” ~ Allen V. Harris

snowWhile it isn’t snowing at the time I’m writing this article, this is Cleveland and chances are we will be getting more snow this winter. Hopefully we’ll not be besieged by toooooo many “polar vortexes,” but I am anticipating at least a few nice snow days. And while locals sometimes look at me like I have two heads when I say it, one of the reasons I wanted to move to Cleveland was because of the snow. I’ve lived in locations where snow was either limited or non-existent (I remember one winter in Ft. Worth where I counted one dusting of snow on rooftops as the “big snow” that year!) I’ve also lived where the snowfall was so quickly sullied it was impossible to enjoy it (a la Manhattan/NYC). I like snow, and I’m willing to put that in print!

And this leads me to remember the opening lines from the exquisite poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) “In The Bleak Mid-Winter,” which our choir has sung in its musical form this Christmas.

In the bleak mid-winter, Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter Long ago.

What I love about snow, or “snow on snow,” is the quiet and pristine nature of it. I simply love waking to a big overnight snowfall and looking out at the world and seeing it covered in fluffy flakes and, if it is particularly deep or I’ve awakened early enough, there are no signs of activity at all… no creature has bounded across it with it’s telltale tracks and no human has trudged through it either on foot or by vehicle.

January 1st is like a big beautiful snowfall in Northeastern Ohio. It is the day that – at least symbolically – everything is fresh and new. It is a vivid reminder that life, and the Divine, wants to give us a chance to start afresh. Such moments remind me of my own best advice: “Every new day is a chance for resurrection!” And while we all know that soon the snow plows will be down our street (hopefully!) and the people and the birds and the squirrels will all eventually have to struggle out of their hiding places to go about the necessary tasks of daily life, and that the clamor of life will get complicated on January 2nd (if not before) we have a moment to notice and mark life as being fresh, and new, and filled with possibilities.

Rossetti’s poem goes on to proclaim that even this harsh chilly environment cannot keep God from coming to us. Then she ends the verse with the timeless image of all who come to the Christ Child wondering “What can I give him, Poor as I am” with the humble answer, “Yet what can I give him, Give my heart.”

In the same way this reminds us that every day of the year, rain or shine or snow, and with all the complications life may have for us, God invites us to give only what we have, and what is most precious: our love. It is love that makes every day bright and filled with hope and possibility. A blanket of love is like a blanket of snow – it makes all things new.

So on the next big snow day… or on January 1st… or maybe even just tomorrow morning… look out your window and know that this is a chance for new beginnings, to start afresh, to receive and share love. May this assurance warm our hearts and our days.


Gratefully Your Pastor,